At first I thought he was joking, but no, this man was dead serious and I could tell that soon, by the way his hands moved; persuasively, making signs in the air, pointing at stuff around, like he was the boss—a smart fucking Aleck, wrapped in polka dots. His statements were quotes, his words were jargons (well most of them), his gestures were unduly animated, and his one sided emotional blabber was fairly convincing for the man who sat next to him.
“Palash ji”, he said. “I had a very terrible childhood. I was very young, say, twelve or thirteen, when my mother passed away.”
That was, I kid you not, his opening line. I was at Starbucks, a table away from this man, and of course, Palash ji—the pumpkin of a man, who was wearing thick rimmed glasses over his frog eyes. He also had a pink baby face and wavy coconut hair, and if you made an effort to look closely, you could have seen the deposited clutters of dryheena on the scalp, lurking on the edge of the patchy hairlines.
“So at such a young age,” he continued, “imagine me, taking care of my family.” He paused, “a young boy… struggling…can you?”
“I had to man-up early, provide for my entire family, protect them from all the evil in this world, pay my younger sibling’s tuition fees, and take care of my mother and two elder sisters. I was so naïve and unskilled. You think, I could have done all that if I was not smart enough. Or you think, someone would have given me a job at such a young age that paid me enough?”
Palash ji, was about to burst in to tears, listening to just the beginning of the emotional holocaust that was roaring-up towards him, without paying much attention to this phony Mr. Gold chains, who began on a note that immediately negated the base of his entire USP; his mother had died but he was still taking care of her? How the actual fuck? I thought.
“Sir, let me tell you,” he banged the table in anger, looked over his shoulders and then whispered as if he was about to spill a secret, “this world is very unfair to people like us”.
“Palash ji let me explain…” he said taking a big sip of his tea with an audible slurp.
“Ninety nine point nine nine nine nine nine nine nine, percent of this world’s wealth is in the hands of one percent of the population and point zero zero zero zero zero zero one percent of the world’s wealth is distributed among ninety percent of the rest of the population, and that population Palash ji, comprises of people like us. People like you and me.”
Palash ji almost chewed on his tongue after gaining this vital piece of information. His eyes opened wide, almost dropped from his face, like a spiral spring, like you see in those cartoons.
“Yes!, but no, no but no Palash Ji, if we sat on our asses and did nothing to change this monopoly, these people will never let go of all this money and our kids and grandkids will remain poor or middle class, depending on how smart they are. We must make a bit of fortune for ourselves and for our future generation. And we must start now. And we will. Because now you have me. And I have other people with me, who have other people with them and we all know the secret formula to make more money.”
Palash Ji beamed and nodded. He of course had found an angel in a stranger. And I thought this guy sounded just like any other guy in a barber shop. You know, those men, who go there to get their armpits shaved, and those who are going through a mid-life crisis and those who possibly have piles, and those who tell you how the world is run by a secret society or how the present government’s plans are leading us back to the history or how putting ginger on your hair helps in growing hair follicles at a much faster rate, because apparently some enzymes (that they have no clue about) act as seeds or catalysts for your sprouting hair strands.
“Okay,” he said, “let me tell you how this works, Palash Ji”, and drew something on his paper. I tried to take a quick rough look.
“This is you Palash Ji, This is you.
Pardon me it looks like a rat, but trust me, this is you. I am bad at drawings. I have always been, sorry about that”
“It’s Okay”, Palash Ji was content.
“And this, over here, the man who looks dashing, because he is, wearing shades and gold chains and Rolex watch and all that, is me. Palash Ji, do you know why do I look so handsome here and you look like a rat in comparison?”
Palash Ji laughed, thinking it was a joke.
“No, don’t, don’t … don’t laugh. Just tell me …why? I want an answer from you.”
It was quiet for a second or two, Palash ji was offended and did not say a word, wiped his forehead with a pink handkerchief and this guy was walking his talk or at least he pretended he was, “it’s because I have money”, he said.
“It’s because I have way more money than you have. You see, I am on top of the ladder and there is a mountain of a gap between us and the only way you can reach where I am right now, is if you start now. But by the time you reach where I am right now, I will be way above you. But trust me, that situation won’t be half as bad compared to the one you are in right now.”
Brilliant! I thought. This man could put 50cents and Birdmans and 2Chainz and Lil Wayne’s, to shame when it came to flashing his wealth.
“Palash Ji, Albert Einstein was a very renowned business man. He discovered the law of exponential income and that’s where I am getting at now.”
Finally. I thought, after all this beating around the bush, the man was going to talk some sense. I wanted to know what was this all about.
“So my company runs a small business” he said, “It works on making a chain …”
“Gold chains?” Palash ji chimed in.
“No, not gold chains. It’s a chain of people. But that’s not important, now listen. We work with the world’s biggest, number one company. Not second biggest, not third biggest Palash Ji, not fourth biggest. It’s THE biggest company in the world. Do you understand?”
He wrote the number one in alphabets, in roman letters and then in the number system, underlined it twice, made a circle around it and put two dots beneath it.
I thought he had made more than just his point there.
“There are…” he said, “there are … almost more than a million people who work in this company all around the world and I am sure there are billion others, who want to be a part of it but they don’t have the right skill. Which I do, which my company does and which I am sure you do.”
Palash Ji was overwhelmed by this indirect appreciation. His eyes had widened further and he had given all his attention to this self-proclaimed successful businessman.
“If a business doesn’t run Palash ji, is it the fault of the business? Or is it the fault of the person who is running it? Huh? Tell me?”
“The person who is running it” said Palash ji.
“EXACTLY!” he said and drew a few graphs and wrote a few lines, more like quotes, played with Palash ji’s mind and talked more bullshit than I had heard the last time I was in a marriage gathering surrounded by unwanted relatives.
I had lost my interest in his metaphors and quotes and odd examples, but I still had not understood his entire motive behind this meeting. And then he talked vaguely about Asset management, financial security, liquidity, return on investment, making a sales pitch, about corporate funding and some other jargons form cheap management textbooks that don’t have real life case studies to back up the claims.
And when he thought Palash ji had yawned right about twenty five times, he decided to pull out a catalogue of home products from his pocket and spread it on the table, asking Palash ji to choose the ones he liked and buy them in bulk and make his loyal friends buy them and ask his friends of loyal friends to buy them. And at the top of the catalogue, written in blue fonts with a white background, I saw the five letter name of the company; it read Amway.